From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!” He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys. And he went on to Mount Carmel and from there returned to Samaria.
- 2 Kings 2:23-25
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each of them with cane in hand because of their age. The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.”
- Zechariah 8:4-5
Young men toil at the millstones;
boys stagger under loads of wood.
- Lamentations 5:13
Have you ever seen an old movie or a new movie set in the 50s or 60s in a small town? There might be a scene where all the teen-agers in town gather at the local drive-in and then the “fun” starts. The “fun” could be dialogue among friends to keep the plot of the movie going, or it could be a fight, or it could be some sort of challenge to see whose car is faster. You don’t have to look too hard to find one.
In the South, when my wife and I were living there in the 90s, the county seats had a strip, or drag, or some other name, where the kids hung out without parental supervision. It is where the boys were boys and the girls were girls and they all had good clean fun. Except…
We rented a house about half a block from one of those locations. On Saturday night about dark, the kids would gather and when there was enough of them in business parking lots, they would pile into cars and occupy the street. The cars would form something like a bicycle chain, no gaps and bumper to bumper. On one end they turned around at a fast-food place and at the other end, they turned around in front of the video rental store. We lived near the video rental store and our street was cut off to the outside world from dusk until midnight every Saturday.
The businesses that had to close early on Saturday, because the street was blocked by a few hundred teens included a jewelry store, a drug store, and the grocery store. The fire station was on that street too.
The noise from the car radios was ear-splitting. On one occasion, a house in our neighborhood caught on fire and burned to the ground. The fire department was only two blocks from the house, but the boys being boys would not yield to the firetrucks. The boys were just having fun and boys had to be boys.
I never did those things. Was I not a boy? Are there boy things to do that do not involve illegal acts and destruction of property? I mean stupid, sure… but illegal?!?!
One Sunday morning when our Sunday school class had a discussion, one mother of a teen bragged about how the fun on that street was good clean fun. She could see no wrong in it. Of course, she lived a few miles away, and not trapped by the kid’s fun. The house that had burned down was unfortunate, but no charges were made against the kids, so no harm done. Nowhere in America could the kids go to have clean fun, except in their little town. It seemed that she was considering asking the church to create a memorial for the clean fun.
Having half my sleep taken away by the good clean kids having good clean fun, I asked the woman, “If I went home and got the trash bag I placed in the trash this morning and brought it to your house to show your teen-aged daughter the half dozen hypodermic needles that I gathered from our front lawn this morning, would she admit to being one of those who was using? Would she admit to what drug these kids were shooting up?”
The woman turned red and called me a liar, but she quickly changed the subject. I think she knew that I was not lying, and I could produce the syringes.
On countless news programs, you see mayhem in towns around the country and nothing being done about it, because the kids need to blow off steam somehow. But when is enough enough?
The teens on our street use the neighborhood as their personal racetrack, knowing when the cops will not patrol the neighborhood. Good clean fun until a child gets run over as they walk across the street.
I am just painting a picture here. There are three Scriptures above. In the first Elisha has just watched Elijah ascend to heaven in a whirlwind. On his way home, he cured the water in a well so that one town would have clean drinking water and then the boys of Bethel (meaning God’s house) jeered him, and Elisha placed a curse on them. Bethel came to be nicknamed the House of Evil. Was it because the boys were just being boys?
Then the Scripture from Zechariah points to a day when the boys and girls will play in the streets. And it does not seem like the town my wife and I lived in either. The kids in Zechariah’s prophecy were indeed having clean fun. But not so in Lamentations, where Jeremiah’s prophecy shows the boys working hard, no longer playing at all.
I have seen both, but there must be some sort of discipline. The boys need to learn responsibility before being thrown into it at adulthood and told “the fun is over.” And it seems we have the Golden Rule flipped upside down. We act the way we want, at least the boys being boys act that way, and the rest of us must love them just the way they are, because that is the way they want it.
There seems to be a disconnect. When we make excuses for sin, we do not see the need to repent or to go to God for forgiveness. Boys being boys and girls being girls is part of this world, but we are made for a better world. And we should spend our precious time on earth preparing for the next.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.